Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inspired by a cowboy chocolatier

If you are a writer, you understand how the subject of "cowboys" is way overdone. It's a whole genre (Westerns). The subject of "chocolate", while it doesn't yet have its own genre, is also a popular subject. If you're going to write on either of these two subjects, you're going to need a unique twist.

But take two ordinary subjects and combine them. Then you have magic. How 'bout a cowboy chocolatier? I almost fell off my seat when a good friend, who happens to an expert on all things Wyoming, told me about Tim Kellogg, a genuine cowboy chocolatier.

Nearly five years after his first truffle sale, Tim Kellogg, the Meeteetse chocolatier, is well versed in balancing the roles of a cowboy and a chocolate chef. "I say that my dog loves me either way," he jokes. "I either smell like manure or chocolate." He learned how to make chocolate from his grandma, and started selling it in order to make enough money in high school to buy a saddle.

By day he works on a cattle ranch. Every night he makes up to 800 truffles for his candy store in Meteetsee, Wyoming, a typical tiny Wyoming town - population 351 (only 8 towns in Wyoming have a population over 10,000). He must get good business from all the tourists on their way to Yellowstone, or the population of Meteetse is noticeably overweight!

His truffles are a story in themselves with unique flavors like Coors and Jack Daniels, and my personal favorites, champagne, huckleberry, and key lime. I'm not sure I would be brave enough to try his signature Wyoming flavor, the sage truffle (in honor of the ubiquitous Wyoming sagebrush).

Doesn't a cowboy chocolatier sound like a great idea for a story character? I'm already brainstorming.

What two common subjects would you combine to create an interesting story or character idea?


  1. What a great concept! This is how great stories come to be.
    How about the mechanic who plays Chopin for fun?

  2. Incredible! What great story fodder. I love it.

    How about the flamin' gay vampire in Hex Hall? What a mix!


    How about a ballroom dancing Dead Head? He could twist Grateful Dead songs on their head for ballroom dance competitions. :o)

  3. Awesome! Just goes to show that truth is stranger than fiction! :)

  4. Margo ~ This is a fun idea! Of course, every combo I am thinking of is sounding like a cliche in my mind... A surfer who's a math wiz? A truckdriving grandma?
    I love trying to go for the NOT obvious choice when combining traits in a character too. I'm actually working on that right now and it's giving my manuscript a lot more depth.
    Just read your whole bio! It's great to get to know you a bit. I've never been to Wyoming, but I did theatre in Colorado at 8,000 feet for one summer. Let me tell you, you high-altitude folks are super-heroes!

  5. I love it. It goes against all the stereotypes of cowboys I that I know. And we have our fair share of cowbows in southern Alberta (also know as cattle country).

    I'm not sure, though, what I think of a chocolate that tastes of coors. *makes face*

  6. What a great story! I love turning cliches on their head. That would make an amazing character!

  7. Lydia: I can just see his dirty fingernails flying across the keyboard :)

    Jackee: a ball-room dancing Dead Head. Love it!

    Susan: that's what makes life interesting!

    Molly: the truck-driving Grandma isn't any cliche I've ever hear of. Surfer/math whiz good too. We should always go with the NOT obvious choices in our writing, but it takes time to stop and think about what's not obvious. I need to take more time for that. While I may claim high altitude gives me an edge, in reality that edge only shows up when you go down hill. And I don't have time to write when I'm visiting lower elevation places!

    Stina - of course you have cowboys - the Calgary Stampede! Yeah beer & chocolate are two tastes that DON'T seem to go together.

    Talli - nice way of putting it - turning cliches on their heads.

  8. Not much of a fiction writer, but I had to chuckle when your cowboy chocolatier said "I either smell like manure or chocolate." Somehow, I think I would leave that out of the storyline.

  9. Wow, what fun! Will have to give some thought to combining other things. Hmm.
    Happy weekend:)

  10. Incredible! What great story fodder. I love it.
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  11. Great blog and so good to meet you!

  12. The thought of a cowboy chocolatier just makes me smile.

  13. Absolutely I think cowboy chocolatier makes a great concept! Very creative. An idea? How about a meat butcher vegetarian restaurant owner? That's all I can think of presently. Fun post.

  14. I love this!! I thik the challenge for me is finding a character who is unique and believeable. You need to write that story:)) Thank you for visiting my blog!

  15. I love this post - yes, that sounds like a fascinating character! Let's about a Russian ballerina who is a chili cookoff judge (that comes to mind since a friend of mine just told me that she and her husband went to training to become chili cookoff judges - I didn't know they had to be trained).

  16. Claudia - come on, doesn't the "love me whether I smell like manure or chocolate" appeal to you? smile

    Lynn - meat butcher who owns a vegetatarian restaurant? Love it! Thanks for the tip :)

    Susan - Russian ballerina judging chili cookoffs is great. Another cool idea!



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